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2010 proved to be one of those milestone years; with bands from the 90s reuniting and/or re-releasing some of those iconic albums of yesteryear, with British artists across all genres, from Dubstep to Nu Folk and everything inbetween, proving their worth to the wider world and with some no end of new acts pumping their music out online and in the wealth or small venues across the region. But just who did stand out? In our humble opinion (well Laura, the Editor) and in date order it was these guys…

at Anson Rooms, Bristol (February 12)
After releasing one of the best albums of the year (The Courage of Others) hopes were high for this Midlake gig and they did not fail to disappoint. Despite playing in one of the least atmospheric venues in Bristol, the Texan folksters managed to whisk everyone away to a magical medieval dreamland full of heartbreaking harmonies, credible flute solos and soaring ballads. Then they came back to the South West and did it again in Exeter in the Autumn.

Fun Lovin Criminals
at Bristol 02 Academy (March 11)
Lead singer Huey treated this gig a bit like a homecoming as his newish wife is a Bristolian and he and his boys pulled out all the stops to entertain the well up for it crowd. Not only did they blast through the hits with such coolness and style but they threw in some faux gangster role play where Huey berated the bands manager over the loudspeakers for getting fucked up on coke. A bizarre yet thoroughly entertaining night!

at Royal Albert Hall, London (March 24)*
This was the gig we’d been waiting almost a decade for. After splitting up in the early noughties no one knew whether the unforgettable Britpop heroes would ever get back together again but thank heavens they did. This was one of a run of Teenage Cancer Trust fundraiser gigs but while the others are pretty forgettable this one will go down in history as an unmissable music moment – the refreshingly healthy looking band, on top form, playing to the most appreciative bunch of musos in one of the most magnificent venues in the world. Mazin.

Martha and the Vandellas at Bath Pavilion (June 6)
She may be 70-odd but boy does this woman know how to turn it on! The final night of the Bath International Music Festival pulled in the biggest draw and it ain’t difficult to see why. Martha is a legend and with her Vandellas in tow proved why Motown is such a timeless and popular genre. Belting out the numerous hits (Dancing in the Street, Jimmy Mack etc) with some upbeat covers (Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye etc) Martha proved herself a force to be reckoned with – what’s more, she promised to return to Bath in 2011.

Ash at Cardiff Barfly (June 30)
No-one in the jam packed audience at this gig could’ve known that it would be one of the last ever gigs at the Cardiff Barfly before it closed down for good, but it was. And talk about going out with a bang. Ash may be seasoned veterans but they sure did prove that they are just as relevant today as they were in the mid 90s – angsty, raw and exciting. The crowd was a notable mix of teenagers and old indie kids whose faded t-shirts were now accompanied with cagoules and walking boots. Tim spat out the wo

Manic Street Preachers at the Newport Centre (October 23)
Having had the luxury of seeing the Manics three times on this tour (before James Dean Bradfield fell ill with laryngitis) I can safely say that the closest they came to a homecoming gig, that is the one in Newport, was the highlight of the tour. Playing to family, friends and old school teachers as well as the fans who put them where they are today was very poignant. The boys played something from every one of their 10 albums (except the godawful Lifeblood) and mused over the last time they’d played there with missing Manic Richey and were joined in one mass singalong by the glittery crowd.

Duke and the King at Bristol Fleece (October 29)
Watching Simone Felice strut his stuff on stage, straining over the most heart wrenching lyrics and having more than one ‘moment’ with his band it’s hard to believe this is a man who underwent life threatening open heart surgery less than a year ago but he did. And after leaving his brothers’ band The Felice Brothers he has returned with a motley crew of uber talented musicians under the guise of The Duke and the King whose soulful tracks cannot fail but send shivers down your spine.

Skunk Anansie at Bristol 02 Academy (November 22)
This is one of those hotly anticipated reunion gigs and one which 247 Magazine columnist and notorious Bristol gig-goer Big Jeff had been waiting all year for and boy did these distinctive rockers nail it. Skin is possibly the best frontwoman in the world ever (genuinely can’t think of anyone else who gives it just as much as she does with such mesmerising beauty).

Arcade Fire at Cardiff International Arena (December 9)
For once the Cardiff International Arena actually felt like an arena. The queues into the gig stretched for miles – though bizarrely the touts left empty handed. Arcade Fire weren’t dwarved by the massive stage or the copious amount of space but instead managed to fill the whole venue with their unmistakable euphoric anthemic rock. Commanding the stage like gods, Win, Regine and co danced and propelled themselves through a religious set of uplifting anthems and despite some of the crowd behaving like complete idiots the whole gig was a rare treat for the CIA.

Idlewild at London Garage (December 14)*
To coincide with the re-release of 100 Broken Windows, the Scottish band’s second and arguably most accomplished album, Idlewild played a series of gigs which featured every single track from the album and reminded everyone exactly why they loved it so back in 2000. With a raw energy and undeniable charisma Roddy and co showed how inspirational lyrics can sit perfectly alongside swooping guitars and screaming vocals. More like this please.

(*OK so these two gigs weren’t in the West or South Wales but boy were they worth the trek to London for! Not only two of the best gigs of the year but of the whole decade.)